Richard Hammond gets to grips with the big cranes that are used in salvage yards in Louisiana. But some of the machinery proves uncooperative.
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Every day, barges like this one arrive here,
each loaded with up to 100,000 pounds of salvage.
So to get that off there and on to here,
you're going to need a big crane.
A really big crane.
I've driven just about every high-powered vehicle there is,
but that was just for fun. The world's biggest,
baddest vehicles are made to work.
So now I've decided to travel across the United States
to see if I can conquer the monsters of the worksite.
I'll have just three days to learn how to handle
these complex and dangerous machines
that normally take years of training to master.
And in the end we'll find out if I'm good enough to get the job done.
I'm at D&L Salvage, Franklin, Louisiana.
Every day, hundreds and thousands of pounds of marine scrap
from offshore oil rigs and the like arrives here on barges.
I've set myself the task of learning to operate the three key pieces
of heavy machinery they use to process that salvage.
From the friction cranes that lift it off the barge and onto the land,
to the material handlers, the magnet and grapple
that sifts through it for the valuable metals to be recycled.
At the end of three days,
I'm going to be responsible for my own barge load of salvage.
I'll have to use all three machines to process it in 15 minutes.
If I can do that, then I'll be able to call myself a real salvage man.
Wish me luck.
So Jimmy, this is your baby.
You've been running these things for 6 years?
-How much can it lift?
It can lift 150 tons.
-And how long is that boom?
-That boom is a hundred foot.
So all the numbers on this thing are big. I'm just looking...
-these are the counterweights?
-What do they weigh? Look at them. They're HUGE!
-They're about 20 tons each block.
-Can I get in and have a go?
Oh, this is big!
Sorry about that.
A bit bad today. Love what you've done with the seat.
It's really nice.
Oh, this thing's seen some duty! Look at that!
-What do I do?
-Well, let me show you how to run it first.
Oh. Yeah. I just wanted to check. That's nice.
Good, it fits. Carry on.
ENGINE ROARS INTO LIFE
It's good soundproofing!
Oh, stuff's happening!
This is a proper big machine with big rusty levers
and oh, it's all... oh, we're moving!
-A good way to practise.
Keep your boom up.
-Take it in, your boom.
-Pull it back, yeah.
Always try to set your block on something small.
That block weighs a lot, doesn't it? That's a big lump of metal.
-I can do that.
-Would you like to try it?
Right. So barge is there. I'm ready to do this, aren't I?
-I know the controls.
What else do I need to know?
-Well, I can't use hand signals.
-I'm operating it.
-From this guy.
He's going to hand signal you. That's Marty.
Marty, hi. Right.
What hand signals, then? I have seen these before. Is that all this business?
Yeah. Boom up, boom down.
Boom down and then come up easy,
like this, come up slow
-and then come down slow with the fast lines, like this.
-So, that's just... that means what?
-Full speed away.
-Right, go with it.
-So, that means slow.
-That means just go crazy.
'This is genuinely exciting.
'My first time getting to operate this enormous crane.
'I can't wait!'
It's not going now.
-Is she having a bad day?
This old girl's done her work. This crane is over 100 feet long
and weighs over 100 tons,
and I've managed to break it in less than five minutes.
-Well, it's nearly as old as me, to be fair.
So, you know, I have off days.
I don't see why the crane shouldn't.
Right. What's the news? Lee, you're the fixer.
I changed the little poppet valve
-to see if I can fix it.
-What? You fixed it already?
-Uh, we're trying to.
-Yeah. It's a poppet valve.
That's what I thought it was. I was going to say that.
What does a poppet valve do?
It's a check valve for the hydraulics.
Without the hydraulics, you got no crane.
Yeah. Right, fire it up and let's give it a go.
It doesn't work.
Yeah, it's not the poppet valve.
It's... it's something else. Yeah.
A crane that doesn't lift is kind of a dismal thing.
What else can it do?
Hit by lightning, I suppose. That's about it.
It's not the poppet valve.
It's gonna be all right.
It's gonna be OK. It'll be fixed.
I won't lie, it's not looking brilliant,
but it's not over.
This is a long fight.
She's still hanging on in there.
We've all just got to hope and give her time.
It's going to be a long night. Get comfortable.
OK. I'm gonna need plenty of boiling water and a lot of towels.
I have no idea what for, but they always need them.
Breathe, damn you, breathe! You can't just give up!
You need a wrench? I've got a wrench.
Come on. You know you need it.
This thing's thirsty!
It's a big machine. And she's got a big appetite.
That's hydraulic fluid going in.
I've never seen so much of it poured out in my life.
Maybe topping up more than once every 10 years?
Let's see if that'll work.
This old girl's done her work.
I don't mean you when I say, "This old girl." Obviously,
-I mean the crane. Yeah.
Jimmy, sorry about your crane.
If you need me, just call. I'm here for you.
Well, the news is it's not good.
It's not well.
This crane has functioned perfectly for the best part of 40 years
and after justm well, a couple of minutes with me...
Maybe we didn't see eye-to-eye. Maybe it was never meant to be.
It's not terminal. She is fixable.
But on the other hand, I suppose this is a crane yard.
They do have many, many other cranes, so I'll use one of them.
Right. So we have another crane.
Is this exactly the same as the last?
-So, he'll tell you to boom down until it's over him, I guess.
Now, he'll hook it up. We'll just wait.
So, he's now asking for up.
We are lifting.
-So if you needed to steer it, someone would grab that line?
And then you're feathering the brake and the throttle
to just take it down.
That's the gist of it.
-OK. So are you happy for me to have a go?
OK. I'm driving a massive crane.
This is quite... I've never done this.
Why is that swinging towards us? Ugh!
Right now I'm trying to swing this crane over to Marty
so he can hook up the pipes that need to be unloaded
from the barge, but I'm having a real difficult time
with the crane's pendulum effect. Once the load starts swaying
it's hard to get it to stop
and tons of salvage swinging out of control is seriously dangerous.
Why are they letting me do this?
How do I stop it doing that?
When it swings out that way, you boom down and give it some gas.
So this is just to try and stop it swinging? This is really hard.
I'm gonna hit it.
This stopping-it-swing business,
-that's the kind of artistry in what you do, isn't it?
I didn't see you doing it. You were cancelling out the oscillation.
-That's another signal for come up easy.
-So, it's this one, yeah?
-Pull this back.
-Pull it back.
-On the line.
-On your line.
And that's back.
Oh! That's bad, isn't it?
Uh, nothing you can really do about that.
-What do I do? Hoist it up?
-Just stop so he can grab his tag line.
Operating a crane can go horribly wrong.
As the crane operator, I must coordinate with Marty on the ground.
The hook and chain weighs hundreds of pounds and if I swing it wildly,
I could easily kill him. I've already broken a crane -
let's hope I don't break Marty. And now what?
All right. Just come up with it and bring it over to your left.
'Jimmy is a man of few words and usually I kind of admire that.
'Just not when someone is supposed to be teaching me
'the details of operating a potentially lethal crane.'
So I need to get this over there?
That ought to be good enough.
That's going all over the place, isn't it?
I'm making life quite hard for him, aren't I?
And it's shut down.
Um, that's a lot harder than I expected.
The stuff that Jimmy does to stop that pendulum effect
from swinging around and, let's be straight, Marty,
killing you, it's hard.
-With the right amount of experience...
..it's pretty easy.
I think I need some more practice.
Clearly, if I'm ever to pass my final exam
and be able to call myself a salvage man,
I'm going to have to find a way to master the pendulum effect.
I've had a think about this and I've come up with something, frankly, brilliant.
I need practice with the crane. Right?
That means practice picking things up and putting them down,
carefully and in a controlled manner.
And what better way to do that
than with a giant version of a popular children's game
in which you pick things up and put them back down again
in small spaces, body parts maybe,
or bones without touching the sides.
Well, I've done exactly that. There's plenty of stuff
to choose from here, and I've assembled my own version of the game.
Down here, are the legs. In there, are the guts.
Then up here, we have the arms. And just to finish
the whole thing off, my bit of set dressing if you like, needed a head.
Well, I'm near New Orleans, the heart of Mardi Gras.
So, I went to one of their top Mardi Gras head builders
and commissioned them to build me one.
But as a little extra touch, my whimsy, if you will,
I sent them an email with a photo of me
and they've made it in my image, so it's me.
I haven't seen it yet. This is my first go,
so this will be pretty good.
Maybe the email didn't come through properly. That can happen.
OK. We are just about set. And I'm going to use
the French variation of the rules for this game.
If I hit the sides more than once, I'll have failed the test.
If I do touch the sides, then this noise will sound.
There you go. Right. Are we ready to do this?
-He's so into this. It's unbelievable.
-Press the button.
-Ooh! This one?
It's all really noisy, this machine. Oh, right.
-So, here we go.
-Oh, pull it back.
-Oh, that's loud, isn't it?
-Your brake. Left foot.
-Left foot. Left brake.
-Left brake? Oh, there you go.
-You can start swinging.
I've gone a bit far. I've gone of bit far.
And now, I'm going to let it down, yeah?
-Which brake? Oh, that brake.
Yeah, OK. I got it. Brakes are on.
He loves this. He's loving this game.
Soon we'll be going for our first lift. This is a critical moment.
Give it some juice.
Oh, that's the brake.
Get that last little bit out before it touches. There you go.
See? That's an arm. Done.
Let's go get another arm. All right, so hang on that stack.
-Oh, wrong one. I didn't listen to his orders there, did I?
Oh, I've done it wrong again.
I put it in first and then take the brakes, right?
Pull it first then release the brakes.
Oh, it's touched!
Oh, there's nothing I can do here.
It's out now, though. It's out now.
And then a bit of a left swing.
Nice. He knows I'm good. He can tell.
Down, there's more to operating a crane than ever I thought.
-Make sure he's cleared your load before you come up.
Starting to lift... ahh, look at that.
Oh, it's going to twist, so we'll get out before it...
Oh, that's gone wrong.
That's a lot of buzzing. Ahh.
It's that little bit to get clear.
Not only have I failed my first test as a crane operator
but it took me twice as long as I thought it would to do so.
Not a good start.
I think it was good practice and I feel nowhere near ready
for my challenge at the end of this.
Well, it's the end of Day One here.
And I've learned three things.
One, operating a crane
really is a lot harder than ever I thought it would be.
Number two, should have given myself a lot more time for my game.
Number three, I've got a long way to go
before I'm ready for my final exam here.
Oh, there is a fourth thing actually, which is,
turns out I look nothing like Johnny Depp.
Ah, no, I just thought maybe, but no, no, I don't. No.
I'm here in Franklin, Louisiana,
where I've given myself three days to master three pieces of equipment
key to running a salvage yard -
the crane, the material handler and the electromagnet.
Yesterday, I found out I have no aptitude for the crane.
Today, I'm hoping to do better.
And now we come to the real precision, pinpoint accuracy,
with, believe it or not, this enormous grapple.
He's going to show me how it works. He's after that length of pipe.
Well, I knew today was going to be about precision.
I think he was tying his shoelaces with it then.
What else you got?
Todd's feeling good about himself.
Oh, trying to get challenging.
I'm sure there's work these guys should be doing,
but, I don't know, this is more important.
This'll test his mettle.
Oh, hang on!
Yeah, well, it was dirty, but he got it.
Right. Well, there's no putting this off. It's my go. I can do that.
This got three sticks.
What that means is you got that bit, that bit
and then another bit down.
I haven't used that... I haven't used a three-stick boom before!
-That's to boom it up and down.
You push it sideways and make the other stick go up.
That make you pull it up and down, and you push to the side and make the other stick work.
-I'm following all of that. I need you to know that. Right.
-Yeah, you'll figure it out.
-What you're saying is just work it out for yourself?
-Work it out for yourself.
Right. So, let's just practise working this.
So, let's just get that up.
So, the teeth open and shut like that.
Oh, they're slow! So that's about precision.
And then this rotates.
What should I go for? Something big.
-Pick up that old valve over there.
-OK. That old valve there. Whoa!
That's quite a reach, but I'm going to get to it.
Whoa! That is something!
It doesn't really... Yeah, it's not very gentle.
It moves. It swings a lot.
Oh, still not got it.
Move it all the way.
Pick it up.
Where do I put it?
Put it down right there.
What else can I go for that's smaller?
-That one-inch piece of angle iron.
-The what? Piece of angle iron?
-Piece of angle iron. The one over by...
Here's the problem I keep running into down here in Louisiana -
the language barrier,
which is odd, because I'm pretty sure we're both speaking English.
You almost had it.
-There you go!
-You got it.
-That was a good pick-up!
That is deeply satisfying! You get to do this for a job.
Now, Todd, one other thing I want to learn how to do while I'm here, OK?
-I've seen you do it.
You're picking up stuff, but then throw it onto the pile.
-I saw you flick it onto the pile. How do I...?
-Flick it on the pile?
Yeah. What can I do it with?
Grab some of them little valves and that electric motor.
-That right there in the front?
-Grab that? Right, OK.
You got to make it swing.
How do I do that?
Make the arm go up.
Oh, I see. So, hang on.
THAT...is immensely good fun.
That is one of those rare occasions
when something is actually even more fun than it looks to be.
I loved doing that.
There's moments when it all comes together,
reaching out and getting it.
There's a sense of being in something really massive
using tiny little bits, and those adjustments...
I got there. I think that's a brilliant, brilliant occupation.
And the whole throwing thing - I think we can take that further.
-Do you got five minutes?
-I got five minutes.
-We can fill it.
-I got a good idea. Bear with me.
So using the grapple is all about accuracy and precision,
not just in picking things up, but also in placing them,
or even throwing them where you want them to be.
You see? You can probably see where this is going.
It's time for a little game of lawn balls, if you're American.
If you're British, it's crown green bowling.
If you're Italian, it's bocce.
If you're French, it's les boules, or if you're being colloquial, it's actually petanque.
Anyway, you take the point. The game is, there's a jack. We have a jack over there.
You then have to throw your balls as close to it as you can.
And our balls are over there.
Technically, they're refrigerators, but that's the point.
We're upscaling this because we'll be throwing them,
with the grapple.
You see? Brilliant!
Probably best if Todd goes first again and I'll keep score
and maybe I'm going to watch to see if I can get some hints
and tips on how to do this.
It's going to be brilliant.
OK, if we are ready, we are going to do this.
Let's bowl! I don't know if they do that when they play bowls, but I do.
That doesn't usually happen with a game of lawn bowling, does it?
This is better.
The ball laid out there ready.
I say ball. It's a fridge, but you know what I mean.
Yes, we have made them safe, before you ask, obviously.
Classic bowler's grip there.
I'd say lightly gripped in the fingers.
Oh, yeah. He begins to bowl. He begins his swing. Here we go. Oh, this is tremendous!
I could be in trouble.
Nice bowling. Yeah. Very good.
Yeah. Well, now you'll see something.
Here we go. Right. Let's rev it up.
Yeah! Oh, God, that's a good start.
OK, first, pick up my ball.
Oh, this is going to take ages, lads.
I got myself a ball, there I go.
Yeah, give it some turn, give it some turn, give it some turn.
Oh, that hasn't gone at all well.
-Yeah, um, I messed that up quite badly.
-Yeah. Good luck.
OK, ball number two for Todd, bowling red.
and there it is.
even closer than his first one.
Let's see what he's going to do.
Give it the beans! Yeah!
Right. Yeah, you see, it's all going to be in the grip, this one.
Let's just get it... Whoa!
A bit further along there, and then down, a little twist.
Oh, that's a good one.
Again, too much top spin.
Todd, did you see that wind?
All of a sudden, that gust of wind just...
I had it set up right but, ah, you know.
What's that thing we have to do now
when he's about to bowl fridges with a big crane?
Run! That's it.
Bowl number three now for Todd, bowling red.
At the moment, it looks like Todd has the game. But who knows?
There's some way to go. We're only halfway through yet.
You can say that on American TV.
Here we go. We're nearly, nearly there.
Now, let's go around and really bowl it.
Let's bowl this. Let's play bowls.
Closer, though. Come on, it was closer.
It was. You got a little closer that time.
Bowl number four now for Todd, bowling red.
Let's see where he places it.
Oh, that's high. That's up high.
Oh, the next player's going to have to come up with something pretty special to beat that.
Give it the beans!
Right, Hammond, this is your final bowl.
Oh, come on!
Let's just see, did I? I'm sure that last one did it.
It just felt to me like it curved it. It didn't.
It... Yeah, well. Lucky. You were closer on that one.
And maybe that one.
That's one's a bit closer.
-And you were closer on all of them.
-On all of them.
But you gave it hell.
Come on, that was a valuable exercise.
We were proving a point.
It was about accuracy and precision, and throwing, and balance.
-And I learned.
You maybe even honed your skills a bit.
Start of something great.
-But I won the game.
-Yeah, you did. You did.
-Yeah, yeah. My game, that I invented.
End of day two and I've learned some things today.
I've learned that using a magnet on the end of a boom is much harder than I expected it to be,
and that the whole grappling issue is great until you try and play lawn bowling.
Then it's really, really hard.
But amongst all of that, let's be honest, fun.
Uh, have I learned enough to be anything like ready for my test at the end of all of this?
No, I don't think I have. And I'm still conscious of the crane.
It's really hard.
It's literally looming over me like a, like a... Well, like a crane.
We'll practise tomorrow. There's time.
Good game, though. You ought to play it.
Day two here in Franklin, Louisiana, where I set myself the challenge
of proving I could make the grade as a salvage man.
To do that, I need to master the three machines
they use here to unload salvage barges
and process the recyclable materials if I'm to pass my final exam.
And I think... Well, I hope I got the really difficult stuff out of the way yesterday
using the big crane to unload the salvage off the barge.
I'm driving a massive crane!
Once the salvage is on to the land, they need to sort through the piles
to pick out the valuable metals from the other materials, wood and such.
Yeah, they could go through it by hand but that would take ages.
Instead, they could just use a massive magnet.
Todd, what we've got here is kind of a medium-sized trackhoe.
I'm sort of familiar with this bit.
What's more important is what's down here on the end of the boom.
-And this is the magnet.
-That's the magnet.
-So that's an electromagnet?
Got a generator inside it to the bottom that operates the magnet.
So it's not like it's on all the time.
No, you got a button to put it on or a button to cut it off.
And how powerful is the magnet?
-So you sift through... You dangle it over a pile of stuff like this?
-And then all the metal jumps up and sticks to it?
Essentially, then, the salvage comes off the barge
and it's got to be sorted to find the most valuable metals.
What he wants out of there is that really thick curved piece of pipe.
Oh, there's a nice piece in there, that nice curved piece.
How did he do that?!
He just picked up the pipe.
That is impressive, genuinely.
So he's put that down here to sort it further.
I'd have thought he really was just waving a magnet around.
That's how you do it.
Well, I just thought you'd switch the magnet on and wave it about,
pick up magnetic stuff and put it down.
But it was the sifting with it that amazes.
-Getting it right.
Right. Well, can I have a go, please? Can I? Can I have a go?
-Yes, you can.
-All right, I'll follow you.
Right, so if I lift that, that's my main stick.
I've never played with a giant magnet.
-Push that down.
All right. So I put it down like that.
-Just press the button.
-And that puts the magnet on?
Oh, a load of stuff. Look at that!
This is like fishing. It's brilliant!
I got that. That's all mine.
I like this machine. This is fun.
It's the simplest of machines. It's just a magnet on a boom, but...
What do I want, what do I want?
Er, I want that red thing right there.
Oh, hello. Sorry.
Now, I did mention I was having a slight problem
with the language barrier down here in Louisiana, right?
The whole point of this operation is it is marine salvage,
and that means the stuff they're salvaging tends to be at or near the sea.
So somebody's got to go and get it, and when they're there,
it's really hard work.
At the end of the day, they're going to need somewhere to eat and somewhere to sleep,
that's going to have to go with them and float.
What they need is a barge.
But not just any barge, but a specialised barge.
-Please. This is it.
-It's nice. Oh, I like what you've done.
-Home from home.
-Home from home.
So, show me around.
This would be one of our rooms here,
like, for the company man, or you want to say the guy paying the bill.
-Oh, right. So this is your first class.
-It's nice. It's basic. It's got what you need.
-Got what you need.
How long are we talking about being away on this thing?
A job can usually last anywhere, probably, from five days to eight months.
Eight months? Well, it's got the basics in, then.
Oh, look. You see, I knew there'd be like a state room.
This is where you hold balls, maybe parties?
This is where the three meals a day are.
You know, the guys after work wind down. They sit down, watch TV.
What do they think of it? If they're to set off now and you say,
"Right, see you in two months." What kind of time will they have?
The worst thing is being away from the wife and kids.
Other than that, they don't rough it, when it comes to food or conveniences of home.
One thing you haven't shown me as we walked around is an engine room.
And that's cos this barge hasn't got one.
It's a barge, so how does it get to work?
-Can I have a look at that?
I might book with you guys next year. Nice, long cruise. Do you do the Nile ever?
Oh, this is nice. Homely.
So this is just basically an engine that floats.
-A lot of horsepower and push.
-How much power has this thing got?
This particular boat has 1,000 horsepower.
Two 500-horsepower diesel engines, turbo-charged.
-That's a lot of grunt, isn't it?
-Lot of grunt.
-Go on, then. Make it do something.
As you notice, most of this thing's not with a wheel.
It's mostly twin screw by here.
One forward, one reverse to either walk it this way or that way.
Keep your hands on it! Don't wave you arms about.
We're in a massive boat, pulling a barge.
How long would a journey take in this, typically?
The average speed is seven miles an hour.
With all the conditions that you run through,
what you're actually doing is hard.
-Where you're doing it is hard.
-The weather - it's hot.
-It's hot. Harsh conditions all the way around.
-You're away from home.
It's not for everybody, but some guys grew up round it,
their father might have been in the oil field, grandfather.
It's just kind of like the tug boat captains. They like what they know.
I'm strictly a land-dweller. I'm not very good with the boats.
Uh, yeah. Oh, God. I'm really nervous with boats.
Well, I... You see, your accent, the speed and my nerves are not helping there.
Put 'em in neutral, cos you got so much weight with the tug and barge, you got momentum.
-One click, into neutral.
-That's in neutral?
So when do we start slowing this thing?
Once you get about 50 feet, we'll put one in reverse so...
-Oh, that's about 50 feet now, isn't it, surely? Must be.
And that's a good 50. That's maybe 45.
Oh, how much does this weigh?
And it's worth a lot of money.
Pop it back in neutral.
-My man is going to catch it right there by the back corner.
-Oh, I'm parking the big barge?
He'll drop spuds. You can drop that spud when we get close.
What's a spud and why is he dropping it?
A spud, technically, is like an anchor.
He looks really nervous cos he sees me up here, not you.
He looks very unhappy about that.
It's my last day here on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana,
where I've challenged myself to learn to be a salvage man in just three days.
I've trained on the salvage man's three main machines -
the crane, the grapple and the electromagnet -
but my final exam is rapidly approaching.
I think I really am getting somewhere with the magnet and the grapple.
And they are two essential bits of kit around here.
And the guys have said I can have some time just on my own,
just to practise and really learn.
Both things are about lifting stuff, quite big stuff,
and then manipulating it.
So I need something quite big that I can really lift,
grapple and grip...and get in there with, something quite big.
Ah, I know!
There we go! Now we're working.
Since I'm not officially a salvage man yet,
I've decided to practise on something beyond salvaging -
Now, the whole point with the magnet, as I discovered yesterday,
is it is about precision.
It's about picking up the stuff that you want,
then placing it where you want it to be.
Yeah, that's about right. Put that there.
It's like learning to write. It's a really precise thing.
Yeah, that's where I want it to be.
Let's just try this finesse with something that's bigger.
Let's just practise this again.
There you go.
Let's try that.
See, it's just that precision, just putting it where you want it,
when you want it there. Just slipped it in.
Accuracy is all.
And I think that's probably enough time with the magnet.
I'm going to move on to the grappler.
OK. Now, the critical thing with the grapple is,
as I think I've learned, it really is a precision tool.
I see no reason why I can't just...just tweak that windscreen wiper a little bit.
Oh, come on!
Not the windshield, I want the wiper!
There! It's got to be in there somewhere.
No, no, no.
Is that the wiper?
No, that's not the wiper.
It just got it just like that and then just...
Yeah, let's put it on its side.
Yeah, that's better!
Now, we can get at stuff.
Oh, let go, let go.
Give me the wheel. Give me the wheel. Ha!
Give me the wheel!
I want the wheel! Give me the wheel!
Give me the damn wheel!
I, for one, am impressed. I don't know about you.
Let's go for a bigger move altogether now.
I am making a convertible.
Oh, it's the roof. Look!
Nobody's made a convertible minivan. Why not? Look, it's brilliant.
Oh, that's a tough bit, isn't it?
This will catch on.
Everyone's going to want one of these when I'm finished.
And...mine! Oh, yeah!
There it is.
This will, I suspect, soon become an industry standard test for most car manufacturers.
Do you know what? I think...
That's exactly what I needed, a bit of private study time.
It does pay off.
It's like exam cramming.
I'm good to go.
The beginning of day three,
and I think I've kind of learned the basics so far.
I did struggle a bit with the giant friction crane.
That was hard.
And I found this, the magnet, a lot more complicated than I expected.
I think I got the hang of the grapple, even though Todd did beat me in the game of lawn bowling.
You had to be there to understand what that's about.
The thing is, I've got my final test ahead of me now.
If I don't pass, I'll never be able to call myself a real salvage man.
And I decided, just to make it a bit more challenging,
I decided to make it rain.
Yeah, I like a challenge. Spice it up a bit.
I might as well be at home with this. I mean, look.
Gentlemen, Trainee Hammond reporting for his final test.
Right. So, it's 15 minutes and I've got to move stuff off the barge. What am I moving?
You're going to move the minivan from earlier, as well as the refrigerators.
-That's all the stuff I broke.
-That is correct.
-What you've got me doing is tidying up my own mess.
-That is correct.
-You made a mess, now it's time to clean it.
Oh, come on! It's not like there wasn't... OK, that's my mess.
So, I've got to get all that off there on here, sort through it?
-Find the metal bits that are magnetic, separate those out.
Don't start the timer until,
until it makes its first turn towards the barge.
That sounds fair?
What, when the engine first starts?
Yeah, you're burning fuel.
I'm going to do it. I'm ready. You don't think I will, do you?
-Give it hell.
-Yeah, I'll give it hell. I will.
-Good luck to you.
-Jimmy's just going to sneak along.
You won't even know he's there. You're with me. All right.
Oh, the seat's wet! Oh!
Yeah. And then hit this? There we go, it's beginning.
Right. Now, I'm looking for my hand signals.
Let's see if I can remember them.
So that's boom down.
Moving down. There it goes.
Waiting for the signal. More, more, more.
They are brave men, when you consider I'm not necessarily the world's best operator on this thing.
Right, so let's hoist, which is that.
Lock your brake. Lock your brake.
Oh, this is hard.
He's only got one, he better do two at a time to make the time.
OK. It's going up. It is going up.
Coming up with the second lift.
-Oh, coming up.
-He needs to hurry.
So another fridge joins my pile of stuff that I've broken.
Richard, you're coming up on about five minutes,
so you better pick it up a little bit, buddy.
The whole fridge bowling thing seemed like a good idea at the time.
I didn't know I'd have to tidy up!
I'm not halfway through unloading it. I should have made less mess.
It's a good game, though.
The fridge is off the barge...
..and onto land,
ready to be sorted by me in just a few moments using the next machine.
Well, there goes number four.
One more bit and that's the minivan.
Wahey! Sorry, guys.
They're brave men.
I wouldn't want to do the bit that they're doing here.
Oh, I really have made a bit of a mess there.
Oh, some of it's escaped a bit.
Now, all he has to do is separate everything.
Right. That, I believe,
is everything on the bank that needs to be on the bank.
I would say that, right now,
this storm is turning into a proper tropical storm.
And I'm in a massive metal-armed crane.
Yeah, let's get a move on! Quicker than that!
Oh, that was lightning. There was lightning then.
It was lightning and it was close.
Storm's getting worse. Nice touch, fellas. Right.
So far, I've managed to unload the barge but I only have four minutes
to use the magnet to separate the valuable recyclable materials.
And then I still have to use the giant claw
to move the refrigerators and minivan to their proper places.
Four minutes to finish all of that.
Oh, plus I'll be sitting at the wrong end of a giant lightning rod,
during a thunderstorm, the whole time.
Right. Well, I guess there's no point in going through the fridges.
I know there's nothing to look for there.
Going up to the car.
What have we got?
Sorry, car, I'm really making an even worse mess of you.
Yeah, there's some more.
There's a whole load of stuff. Look.
OK. I reckon there's about the right place for my neat pile of...
That's all my precious stuff.
One more pass, I think, should do it.
Just stroking it, really, to find out what's magnetic and what isn't.
That's going to have to do.
That is my pile of precious metal right there.
Right. Now I'm going to change to the grab.
Two minutes to go. Time is against me.
So, let's try to move these fridges all into a nice, big pile.
Oh, oh, oh, stop that swinging.
Yeah, that'll do. I got it, I got it, I got it. Gently does it.
I'm out of lift on the boom, but it doesn't matter because...
Ah, it's in the pile. That's neat enough.
Let's see if I can reach that. Oh, yeah.
Oh, no! It's not mine.
Oh, this is frustrating. Come on.
There. There! I've got it. That's my fridge.
That won't lift that way. And finally...
There it is. That's a pile of fridges.
Right. Now all I have to do is the car.
OK. With a minute to go, one more thing,
which is to pick the car up.
Jimmy's backing the trailer in.
I'm going to put the whole of this utterly ruined minivan -
what a shame(!) - onto the trailer.
So, I need to just get this lifted,
without hitting their valuable trailer.
OK. There we go.
Oh, I can give that grip now.
We should have that.
There we go. It's mine, it's mine.
OK. Jimmy's going to back the trailer in,
I put the car on, and we are there.
Going to turn, line it up the trailer.
Oh, yeah. I reckon that's ready to go off to a dealer, to be honest.
I know guys who can sell that.
Ooh, ooh, ooh. No.
I can't seem to let go of it.
Yeah, I'll let go of it.
We are done! That is it, my friends!
And just park this machine.
Oh, come on, come on!
Stop the clock, stop the clock!
I am done. That is me finished.
I reckon... I make that in time. Just. And I mean only just.
Ta-da! Come on, what did I do?
I was just inside, wasn't I?
Uh, yeah, 30 seconds.
There you go. Come on.
OK, it's not the neatest of piles and not all the metal came out,
and I took a while with that crane.
-The crane's hard.
But overall, let's go through it just briefly.
The crane - out of ten, what would you give me?
I'd say a six.
-I'd say it was a five.
Yeah. I'm surprised I got that much out of you, to be honest.
And on the magnet? I mean, there wasn't a lot to sift through. I didn't have a lot to find.
Right. I'd say I'd give you a six again.
Thank you. Thank you. Now, on to the grapple.
-Come on, I got that. I like the grapple.
-You like the grapple?
Well, it's not easy, but I'm getting there.
I'm all right with the grapple.
OK. You had to be generous in the end. Well, guys, thank you very much...
-Appreciate it, man.
-..for letting me use your machine.
-I know you'll be busy with another load in a minute.
-Get out this mess.
-I'll get out your way.
-Have a good one.
Well, I hesitate to say that I mastered the crane,
the magnet and the grapple, but I got by. I got the job done.
But I leave the salvage yard with something far more significant
than that satisfaction, because I leave here knowing that...
Look, she got well again!
I suspect that old crane will be working long after
I've been broken up for salvage myself.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Richard Hammond crosses the USA to learn how to drive some of the biggest and most deadly machines on the planet. Richard gets to grips with the big cranes that are used in salvage yards in Louisiana. But some of the machinery proves uncooperative.